Improving HelioClim-3 estimates of surface solar irradiance using the McClear clear-sky model and recent advances in atmosphere composition
Abstract. The HelioClim-3 database (HC3v3) provides records of surface solar irradiation every 15 min, estimated by processing images from the geostationary meteorological Meteosat satellites using climatological data sets of the atmospheric Linke turbidity factor. This technical note proposes a method to improve a posteriori HC3v3 by combining it with data records of the irradiation under clear skies from the new McClear clear-sky model, whose inputs are the advanced global aerosol property forecasts and physically consistent total column content in water vapour and ozone produced by the MACC (Monitoring Atmosphere Composition and Climate) projects. The method is validated by comparison with a series of ground measurements for 15 min and 1 h for 6 stations and for daily irradiation for 23 stations. The correlation coefficient is large, greater than respectively 0.92, 0.94, and 0.97, for 15 min, 1 h and daily irradiation. The bias ranges from −4 to 4% of the mean observed irradiation for most sites. The relative root mean square difference (RMSD) varies between 14 and 38% for 15 min, 12 and 33% for 1 h irradiation, and 6 and 20% for daily irradiation. As a rule of thumb, the farther from the nadir of the Meteosat satellite located at latitude 0° and longitude 0°, and the greater the occurrence of fragmented cloud cover, the greater the relative RMSD. The method improves HC3v3 in most cases, and with no degradation in the others. A systematic correction of HC3v3 with McClear is recommended.